Published on January 15th, 2020 | by Alicia Silverstone
I’ve been cringing for years at all the single-use plastic bag waste that’s used to pick up dog poop! There are roughly 63.4 million households in the U.S. that are home to our furry dog friends – which is soo lovely, but the eco-warrior in me can’t help but think about most dogs’ eliminating waste at least 2x a day and the majority of people using the ubiquitous option of plastic bags to pick it up. Yikes, it makes my head hurt thinking about all this plastic garbage that will be on the planet for decades!! I’m about to be the mama to two dogs that need a home, so this topic is especially significant to me right now!
In my brain, letting a dog poop out somewhere in nature and leaving it to biodegrade naturally seems like the most eco choice, but with so many dogs in the world and their poop being high in bacteria, it’s actually an environmental hazard. Just two to three days of waste from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorous to close 20 miles of bay-watershed to swimming and shellfishing, according to the U.S. EPA! Similarly, the Center for Disease Control says that dog waste can spread diseases including campylobacter, tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, giardia, and E.coli, and more rarely salmonella. Arg. So what’s an eco dog-lover to do??
Similar to the world of disposable ‘compostable’ bioplastic-based cups and containers that I see distributed all over LA and NY, it’s now quite common to see people using ‘biodegradable or compostable’ dog poop bags. However, this can be greenwash-y too because ultimately you can’t put your dog’s poop in your city’s green/compost bin, at least we’re not there yet. Even places like Marin County, that are quite ahead of the game in waste reduction, omit animal waste from their compost collections. So if you can’t put it in a green ‘compost’/green waste bin, and it’s not recyclable, will it biodegrade in a landfill? Sadly, most likely the answer is no. Most landfills lack oxygen, so natural or biodegradable materials can’t properly decompose. Blah! Some bags claim to eventually biodegrade in landfills, more quickly than conventional plastic bags, but it still doesn’t seem ideal… I’d love to hear your thoughts on this below if you are a bioplastic dog poop bag research nerd like me 🙂
I know some far-out earth lovers might create or purchase a separate dog poop composter for their place, and compost their dog poop themselves… but I already struggle to keep up with my kitchen-scrap compost bin so I won’t be tackling another system any time soon. However, if you are doing this, tell me how it’s working for you in the comments below, and wow very admirable rock on!
I also know some eco dog blogs discuss flushing dog poop. Has anyone here tried flushing their dog poop down the toilet? I know bags like these exist, but it really depends on your local septic system on if this will actually work for you. Plus I realize it’s inconvenient to bring your dog’s waste back to your house to flush, but hey!?
So what is the eco solution to tackle dog waste? For now, I will aim to use old newspapers and I will also purchase these paper ‘eco poop scoop’ bags made with recycled paper! They are free of any plastic materials, no funky confusing bioplastic materials either. Just simply recycled paper! Plus, they look pretty handy.
Lastly! In doing this research I read about this amazing invention called the “Park Spark”, it’s an incredible dog poop collector located at a dog park in Massachusetts. Park Spark uses the methane from dog poop as captured energy to power the light in the dog park, check it out!
I would be soo thrilled to see this invention spread around the world and help reduce methane and plastic bag waste! Let’s contact our City’s Parks department and advocate for this awesome eco-efficient community solution!
Please let me know how you scoop your dog’s poop below! I would love to hear my fellow animal lovers and eco-friends!
Photo by Zachary Casler